One of the more brutal aspects of the Trump presidency has been the dramatic expansion of immigrant detention centers, as well as the justifications for throwing families and children into them. Current and former ICE officials are furious that Congress isn’t giving them even more beds and funds and facilities, but the number of people in detention centers has ballooned all the same. It’s boom times for the prison industry.
For some less scrupulous companies, that’s an investment opportunity. And Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez hopes to bring their executives to testify before Congress. “We’re going to hold oversight hearings to make these banks accountable for investing in and making money off of the detention of immigrants,” she said at a Queens event hosted by an immigrants right group, “Because it’s wrong.”
Ocasio-Cortez is on the House Financial Services Committee, and the chair, Maxine Waters, has already reached out to a number of major banks in a move to start applying more aggressive oversight to Wall Street in general. The vast U.S. detention network and the financial interests profiting off of it will, no doubt, be coming under harsher scrutiny in the near future, especially as more information about it comes to light.
On Tuesday, Axios reported that thousands of migrant children have allegedly been sexually abused while in U.S. custody. According to the report, from “October 2014 to July 2018, the HHS’ Office of Refugee Resettlement received 4,556 complaints, and the Department of Justice received 1,303 complaints. This includes 178 allegations of sexual abuse by adult staff.”
Despite the insistence from conservative pundits and members of congress, the Trump administration’s family separation policy is much more draconian, pervasive, and prolonged than the immigration policies under the Obama administration, which was also widely criticized by immigration activists. Nearly 6000 cases of sexual abuse of minors happened under both presidents. On top of that, more than 20 immigrants have died in ICE detention in the last two years—a number that does not take into account incidents like a 24-year-old Honduran woman giving birth to a stillborn baby while in custody last week.
Now that voters have put the Democrats back in charge of the House, it’s time for them to prove that they have the clout and dedication necessary to start undoing some of the worst disasters of the Trump presidency. And finding out who exactly stands to make money off of these policies and abuses is an important first step.